Business

Character Assassination, Defamation: GTBank in trouble as Innoson seeks N400 billion damages

Businessman Innocent Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Nig Limited, have filed a fresh lawsuit against Guaranty Trust Bank PLC in the High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, claiming N400 billion damages for injury to their reputation, moral character, credibility, office, vocation and trade.

They are also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining GT Bank from further defaming them.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Mr. Chukwuma’s counsel, Joseph Mbadugha, is sequel to a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in favour of Innoson Nigeria Ltd. in Appeal No: SC/694/2014 between GTB and Innoson.

In that judgment, delivered on May 12, 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed GT Bank’s application.

Innoson had prevailed in various lawsuits against GT Bank. On July 29, 2011, the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division, through a garnishee order absolute, ordered the bank to pay N2,048,737,443.6K (Two Billion, Forty-Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Three Naira, Sixty-Seven Kobo) to Innoson.

GTBank however appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division. But in a unanimous judgment, delivered on February 6, 2014, the appellate court dismissed the appeal, affirmed the judgment of the trial court and ordered the Defendant (GT Bank) to pay N2, 048,737,443.6K (Two Billion, Forty-Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Three Naira, Sixty-Seven Kobo) to Innoson.

GT Bank appealed to the Supreme Court on 11 grounds. Subsequently, the bank sought to amend its notice of appeal- to adduce fresh evidence- to show that Innoson obtained the judgment of the Court of Appeal by fraud and fraudulent suppression of material facts.

GT Bank had through its motion on notice in Appeal No: SC/694/2014 dated January 22, 2016 and filed at the Supreme Court on February 5, 2016, with a 15-paragraph affidavit in support, averred that Innoson obtained the Court of Appeal Judgment against it by fraud.

Similarly, in paragraphs 9 and 10 of the affidavit in support of the said Motion on Notice deposed to by Sarah Ugamah, GT Bank said Innoson fraudulently suppressed information that it was paid N1,406,515,845.98 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Six Million, Five Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty-Five naira, Ninety-Eight Kobo) in liquidation of the judgment debt.

However, in a unanimous decision on May 12, 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed the said motion on notice. And while dismissing the motion, the apex court stated, inter alia, that GT Bank engaged in double speaking and in a frivolous frolic in bringing the application.

In the fresh suit, Innoson and Mr. Chukwuma argued that the words published by GT Bank –that it obtained the Court of Appeal Judgment by fraud and fraudulent suppression of the fact that Innoson Nig. Ltd. was paid the sum N1, 406,515,845.98 in final liquidation of the judgment debt – implies that Mr. Chukwuma and Innoson are dubious, dishonest, dishonourable, and untrustworthy, of questionable character, fraudster, criminally deceptive, cheats and obtaining money through false pretences.

In consequence, the applicants are claiming against the GT Bank Plc. as follows: N100 billion exemplary damages; N100 billion for injury to feelings-mental pains and anxiety; N150 billion for injury to reputation and N50 billion general damages.

They further demand:

AN ORDER that the published words complained of be retracted by the Defendant – GT Bank with an apology published in two National dailies;

AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the GT Bank from further maligning or otherwise defaming them in the words or similar words, complained of in this motion;

AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining GT Bank, its agents, privies or whomsoever from further defaming the plaintiffs;

Twenty-two percent (22%) interest on the said sums of money claimed above commencing on January 22, 2016 till the date of judgment and thereafter at the same rate of 22 per cent interest until the satisfaction of the judgment debt.

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